As the World Turns: Hurt Village Is a Haunting Portrait of a Working-Class Black Family

Galileo is the bane of certain Republicans

And it ends on a surprising elegiac note, Cookie conjuring these relatives and neighbors as the decrepit complex—the only home she’d known—is finally razed. She’s going to the suburbs, and she may well make it out. But Hurt Village will always be with her, even if she can fly away.

If Galileo had been written not by Bertolt Brecht more than six decades ago but by a young playwright working this year, as the 2012 Republican presidential primary marches bravely into the 1950s, it might well be dismissed as too obvious and convenient. But it is, despite its timeliness, a part of the canon, and the Classic Stage Company last week opened a revival that allows a commanding and craggy F. Murray Abraham, as the titular astronomer, to make an eloquent case for the superiority of rational, scientific reason over governmental imposition of religious certitude.

“A millennium of faith is ending,” Galileo says in the play’s first moments. “This is the millennium of doubt.” And while he will ultimately be proved correct, the princes and prelates who rule Italy are not about to let him undermine their worldview—which has the sun and the other planets revolving around the Earth—so quickly. First, he will be turned over to the Inquisition, forced by religious authorities to recant his scientific discoveries, and kept alive but imprisoned for years. “I won’t be a nobody on an inconsequential star briefly twirling hither and thither,” an aged cardinal says, dismissively, articulating the establishment’s unwillingness to no longer be the center of the universe.

This production, using the 1947 translation Brecht created with the actor Charles Laughton, is gorgeous, directed with elegance, wit, and some moments of great beauty by Brian Kulick, CSC’s artistic director, and it features a talented, subtle supporting cast.

No doubt it would make Rick Santorum throw up.

editorial@observer.com

As the World Turns: Hurt Village Is a Haunting Portrait of a Working-Class Black Family